Jennifer Long''s canvases are like pages in a travel journal
Brisbane artist, Jennifer Long, has had a lifelong desire to travel and when she did finally, as a cancer survivor in her early-fifties, her art evolved.
On her first overseas trip to France, England, Spain and Morocco in 2004, Jennifer was so overwhelmed by beauty, colour and design that another side of her oeuvre emerged.
So she put away the nudes painted while studying life drawing and painting with David Paulson in 2000/2001, during chemotherapy for breast cancer, and her brushwork took on a more traditional, realistic style.
In her forthcoming exhibition, Jennifer reflects on memories of her second journey abroad to Italy and France, in April and May 2006.
Recollections opens on April 28 and continues until May 11 at the Graydon Gallery, in Merthyr Road, New Farm (Brisbane).
Jennifer returned to Brisbane brimming with ideas and her latest works reflect what particularly appealed to her during her travels.
There’s a sculptural theme that focuses on statues, the architectural features and details of Europe, such as shop facades, the play of light and shadow, and views - through a doorway or window, or down an alleyway.
And, in what has become a definitive Jennifer Long trademark, she adds flashes of brilliant colour that contrasts with the “dreamy quality” of the muted, warm patina of ageing sandstone, brickwork and timber panelling.
Her latest collection of 50 works, predominantly oil paintings and some ink on paper, features a blue door, a green shuttered window, rose pink stripes and stained glass.
In Monet’s Garden at Giverny, Jennifer captures a mass of hot pink, vermilion and cerise tulips, and the bridges over the Arno River are viewed through a flowering pink magnolia from the Piazza Michelangelo above Florence.
“Every time I paint a scene, I remember that day and the joy of what we experienced. I get caught up in the romance of it,” reminisced Jennifer of her travels with her husband.
“I love the contrast of new buildings juxtaposed against something that’s old and crumbling.
“It’s the detail that attracts me and there’s a little story, told through snippets of life and a moment in time, whether it’s people in conversation outside a shop or the stillness and magical light of Lago di Garda, a lake in northern Italy.
“My paintings are like pages in a travelling notebook.”
With her eye for pattern and detail, Jennifer captures “little gems” on canvas, like elaborately carved commemorative wall plaques and niches. She has painted vases that hang off a wall, dripping with roses, a wrought-iron gate framing a garden, statues positioned between pillars, and a gate beyond an arbour of roses.
This trip was also the inspiration for her successful 2007 exhibition, Translations in Paint, which was practically a sell-out.
“I got very positive feedback and people who missed out on a favourite painting asked me when I was having the next exhibition.
“So my thoughts were to do another show and revisit similar themes but with slightly different settings,” said Jennifer, who says she’s been “painting forever”, seriously since 1997.
She painted with Betty Churcher on Saturday mornings at the old QIT in George Street when she was in her teens and after getting her Bachelor of Arts at University of Queensland in the early 1970s, she did two years of a Diploma of Fine Arts at Queensland College of Art.
“I didn’t finish because the kids came along,” said the mother of three, “but I always managed to pursue art in between my family responsibilities.”
Art is in Jennifer’s genes. Her great uncle, John Sydney Hay, was a traditional artist of the early 20th century who painted scenes of early Brisbane and travelled to Italy and England to pursue his art. Her mother, Pauline Borsht, a sculptor, has work in the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, her sister, Nan Borsht, is an artist on the Sunshine Coast, and Jennifer’s eldest daughter Jessica, was dux of art at school.
Jennifer paints everyday in her studio at St Lucia on the easel her brother, Peter, made for her 21st birthday. She is surrounded by her own colourful art and whimsical collections of shells, stones and pieces of broken china and pottery. She looks out over a rambling, tropical garden and listens to classical music while she works.
“I feel great happiness when I paint - it’s my lifeblood,” Jennifer explained. “It helped get me through some dark days and I can always count on painting to pick me up whenever I feel low.”
RECOLLECTIONS EXHIBITION DETAILS:
Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Road, New Farm
April 29 to May 11, 2008
Opening night - Friday, May 2
Media contact: Nikki Shrimpton
Ph 07. 3395 3883 / 0412 645 547